8. Jermaine Palacios, SS, 21 years old
A newly-minted 21 year old (July 19th birthday), Palacios was originally signed by the Twins out of Venezuela in 2013. He made his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League, showing excellent baseball IQ on the bases and plate discipline, slashing .270/.404/.399 with 11 doubles, 6 triples, and 14 stolen bases.
The Twins brought him stateside in 2015, and Palacios hit so well in the Gulf Coast League that he forced a promotion to the Appy League with Elizabethton. Combined on the year, he hit .370/.398/.540, continuing to show excellent strike zone judgement, but beginning to fill into his frame and showing more power, as he hit 23 doubles, 4 triples, 3 home runs, and stole 9 bases.
Palacios’ 2016 was a lost season for him. He struggled through injury much of the year with Cedar Rapids, and when he was healthy, his swing wasn’t right, as he hit .222/.276/.287 with just 12 extra base hits in 71 games.
The Twins sent him back to Cedar Rapids to open the 2017 season, and Palacios responded well. He’s already been at Fort Myers since his promotion to high-A for over 100 plate appearances, and he’s hitting well at that level as well. On the season, Palacios is hitting .321/.360/.506 with 17 doubles, 6 triples, 12 home runs, and 14 stolen bases. One concerning point is the reduction in his walks, as he’s only walked 16 times in 378 plate appearances, though that has been his rate all along.
Palacios has a smooth line drive swing and a good ability to put the barrel on the ball. He’s also smooth in the field, although he doesn’t have plus speed, so he isn’t exactly going to flash huge range at short, but he handles the plays he gets to very well and has a fringe-plus arm at the position that could work well at 2B as well.
I wouldn’t seen Palacios as a 20 home run hitter in the majors most likely, but he could be a guy who scatters a bunch of extra base hits, puts a lot of balls into play, and plays an adequate shortstop or a very good second base.